Progressive International Motorcycle Show
If you live in the Sunbelt and own a motorcycle, you have the luxury of riding all year. In the Snowbelt, however, the dynamic changes dramatically from Thanksgiving through Easter; that ride will probably be relegated to your imagination. Thankfully, your imagination can ride as much as it’d like at the seven Progressive Motorcycle Shows that take place between November and February.
Just as Detroit signals the beginning of America’s auto show season, so does Progressive International Motorcycle Show’s opener in Long Beach. As this is written, two of those shows – Long Beach and New York – have taken place, while five others (Washington, D.C., Dallas, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Chicago) remain. Together they cover most of what’s new in today’s powersports market. Autoblog was at the New York show, and here are the notable bikes we saw.
An all-new, Brooklyn-based brand, to be built and assembled sometime in 2018, was formally announced at the show. A minimalistic take on a naked sportbike, the all-new Vanguard Roadster appears to be a mashup between Confederate’s boutique brand and what you might find on a Honda showroom in 2050.
Designer Edward Jacobs and Vanguard CEO Francois Terny provided a relatively detailed look into the Roadster’s genesis and powertrain, but very few details on how the project will be financed or produced. And while they did share a suggested retail price ($30,000) and availability (sometime in 2018), both seem highly ambitious. Other boutique brands – such as Confederate – typically cross the showroom at prices near $60K (or more). Without an accompanying announcement of a major investor or other capitalization it’s anyone’s guess as to whether Vanguard actually launches or becomes a very obscure bit of bike trivia.
While Harley’s ‘Milwaukee Eight’ eight-valve engine is no longer news this December, it remained the lead story at H-D’s presentation. And the Milwaukee Eight boasts a host of other changes to mollify the financial stress imposed when spending $20K – and up – on a motorcycle. Beyond the claimed improvements in performance and reliability, there are updates to suspensions and exhaust systems.
For those with an interest in Harleys weighing something under 800 pounds, both the Sportster-based Roadster (shown) and Low Rider S look impressive.
It’s been 10 years and some 100,000 sales since Can-Am first launched its Spyder trike. And while ‘trike’ used to be a niche market aimed at AARP members, Can-Am’s team has been working to welcome a much broader clientele to the Spyder’s three wheels/two-up riding configuration. Can-Am’s biggest news was an across-the-board price reduction, with an entry-level F3 now available for under $17,000. And for those not familiar with the price points of performance and/or touring bikes, $17,000 is commonplace, while spending $25,000 (with options) is easy.
Even if a rider is not sold on the Can-Am concept, it’s easy to buy into the rationale. Making wind-in-your-hair and bugs-in-your-teeth touring more widely available should make huge sense for the Powersports industry, and reasonable sense to Can-Am’s bottom line.
Indian Scout Redwing Concept
With rights to the trademark and a thoughtful reinterpretation of its history, Polaris Industries has hit virtually all of the right notes in reintroducing the Indian marque to a global audience. The Chief and its derivatives provide a nostalgic link to the past while credibly propelling the present, and the smaller – but not small – Scout is a strong argument agains spending $10K (or more) on other cruisers.
Having little new to announce (this iteration of Indian – after all – is new), Indian introduced builder Brian Klock and his Redwing (boots) concept. If you like an American-made bike clothed in American-made leather, you’ll enjoy the Redwing’s durable vibe.
BMW’s back-to-basics R nineT continues to evolve, as its nostalgic vibe racks up impressive sales numbers. In 2017 the R nineT ‘Pure’ brings the original air-cooled concept a slightly lower spec and significantly reduced price, while the ‘Scrambler’ suggests an off-road inclination even if the reality is more all-road than no-road. Finally, the ‘Racer’ (shown) recalls all that was good about the café scene of the ‘70s.
For new or returning riders inspired by viewing or reading Long Way Round, the Charley Boorman/Ewan McGregor documentary of their BMW-mounted around-the-world tour, a ride aboard BMW’s new G 310 GS will resonate. With just 310cc and 34 horsepower your adventure should be modest, but if looking for a manageable commuter or heap-of-fun weekender (at a sane price point) you needn’t look any further.
With an expanding line-up of standards, cruisers and sportbikes, along with a collection of one-off custom builds in its Yard Built Gallery, the Yamaha display had more to consider than the Trump transition team. At the show, however, the Yamaha execs were focused on a refresh of the popular FZ-09 standard and Yamaha’s iconic R6 racer.
Yamaha’s FZ-09 Version 2.0 (shown at right) builds on the original’s lightweight, simplistic formula with improved comfort and ergonomics – along with adjustable traction control, a fully-adjustable fork and ABS. Yamaha’s R6 is all-new – and looks it. An aluminum tank removes almost five pounds from atop the bike, while new plastics make this the most aerodynamic production Yamaha ever.
After a long absence the stand-up Jet Ski returns, with four cylinders of thumping horsepower providing the urge. Kawasaki’s ageless formula looks to supply a huge chunk of fun for (just) under $10,000.
Kawasaki’s road lineup includes the all-new Z900 naked (its name a nod to the muscle bike of the 1970s), while the user-friendly Ninja 650 twin receives an all-new chassis, improved ergonomics and a significant drop in weight. For the outward-bound on a budget, the Versys X 300 is a light adventure twin with a big four-gallon tank and wide-ranging capability.
In 2015 Suzuki was teasing its GSX-R 1000 concept. This year the tease is behind us and an all-new superbike is headed to Suzuki showrooms. While its profile won’t surprise, the bike represents an all-new, clean-sheet approach to going 180 miles per hour. Power is higher, weight is lower and the chassis promises to be much more nimble. It will be available in ‘R’, ABS and non-ABS variants.
When needing to navigate a pit lane, consider Suzuki’s VanVan 200. It offers, as Suzuki puts it, “funkiness of the past … with the technology of the future.” Thankfully, the VanVan doesn’t look like anyone’s science project. Instead, it’s a small bike in the vein of the popular Honda Grom with a big, rubberized footprint, perfect for zooming around the paddock or the neighborhood.
Autoblog reported on Honda’s Rebel 300 and 500 earlier, but both bikes are worth referencing again. After seemingly decades of Japanese motorcycle manufacturers simply not getting the cruiser idiom quite ‘right’, these small/midsize cruisers nail it in both their visual appeal and functional footprint.
On the other side of the showroom, Honda revealed its new CBR1000RR, available to the public in three guises: fast, faster and fastest. With an MSRP of between $17,000 and $25,000, all three represent Honda’s very real attempt to stretch the performance envelope.
Like BMW’s R nineT, Ducati’s family of Scramblers has tapped into a previously underserved market for nostalgic bikes with modern conveniences. To its well-established Scrambler lineup Ducati adds two new options for 2017. First up is the Desert Sled (shown), designed to evoke what McQueen might have ridden in SoCal deserts if he hadn’t been so Brit-centric. And after that offroad-oriented reveal we were shown a café version of the Scrambler, designed to evoke our affection for doing the ‘ton’ two-up. Both bikes are attractive, but the ‘Sled’ is more convincing.
The best-buy bet could be Ducati’s 797 Monster. In a return to its roots, this newest Monster uses the Scrambler’s air-cooled V-Twin (instead of the other, contemporary Testastretta-powered Monsters that use liquid cooling), along with the classic, more-or-less-standard profile many grew up with.
Flo's Chop Shop
Beyond the ‘all-new’ is the reimagined vintage, and few of the custom builds or vintage bikes on display better represent ‘reimagined’ than Progressive’s custom Ural rig, with its own bring-it-to-you grooming sidehack. If attending one of the five remaining shows, Progressive customers can get a shave, haircut or beard trim at Progressive Central, aka Flo’s Chop Shop.